Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Secret Formula of the Kingdom

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." – (Proverbs 16:9)

As human beings we crave security and gravitate towards areas of greater comfort. We are not content with unanswered questions or unresolved mysteries. We attempt to understand our lives by planning for the future and mapping out goals for tomorrow. None of this is necessarily bad, but it does prevent us from acclimating ourselves to life in the Kingdom of God.

In the Kingdom of God, there are no short answers. Sound bites are inadequate. Formulas do not exist. Your comfort zone is irrelevant. Tension is the new status quo for a citizen of the Kingdom of God, not resolution.

Most of us have a voracious appetite for knowledge. We prefer things to be predictable and if God did something a certain way yesterday, we expect Him to do it the same way again today. God does not play this game.

Instead, God operates under the rules of the Kingdom, and these rules are not formulaic. The Scriptures give us a snapshot of the many different ways that God has worked in people's lives in the past, but this variety of methods is meant, in part, to illustrate to us that God does not follow any predetermined script.

He is the Living God. He is the One in whom we live and move and have our being. He is always at work, even to this very day. His agenda is eternal. He has an individual plan for every specific person and He is weaving everything together to work for the good of those who seek Him.

The key to following such an unpredictable God is to come to Him each and every day with a blank slate. "What are you doing today, God?" we should ask. And then we should listen. And wait. And only do what the Father is doing.

"Yet those who wait for the Lord will renew their strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not become tired."– (Isaiah 40:31)

Waiting is the key. Trust is the singular currency of the Kingdom. This is why Solomon encourages us to "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." – (Proverbs 3:5-6)

As our example for how to live the Kingdom life, Jesus exemplifies this beautifully. He is not afraid of unanswered questions. He only does what He sees the Father doing. He doesn't mind being the servant. He isn't afraid to offend the religious elite. He takes the time to give every person an individualized response to the question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" without once repeating Himself to anyone.

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus who, being equal with God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant." – (Philippians 2:5-7)

We long for control. Even though control is only an illusion. God is the One who is really in control of everything. Admitting this to ourselves and relaxing our grip on the steering wheel helps us to see that the wheel we were holding was only an illusion.

In time, our lack of control will become a source of relief to us. At first it causes us to fear and to worry. But, in time, as we learn to trust Him more. We begin to experience a peace within us which flows out of the realization that we are not in control. He is. And that is enough for us.

In the Kingdom of God, we are called to trust God in everything. We are to put all of our hope in Him. He is the One who provides for us. Our jobs are only temporary sources of income. God is our source. He can take care of us with or without a career, or a spouse, or a 401(k).

This is why Jesus teaches us to pray for "daily bread" (Matt. 6:11) and to take up our cross and die to ourselves daily (Luke 9: 23). Why? Because it doesn't work any other way. Unless we are daily seeking to lean on Him for everything, we will invariably lean on our own ability.

This is why it says that God's mercies are "new every morning." (Lamentations 3:22-23) It's also part of the secret that Paul spoke of when he said, "I have learned the secret of being content in every situation. Whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." – (Philippians 4:12)

Formulas have no place in God’s Kingdom. Why? Because if we have a formula we will trust in that pattern and not in God Himself. However, if we continually come to God with an open hand and a sense of expectation it keeps us in a place of faith and humility and dependence upon Him alone.

Simply put, if we can do it ourselves and have God help us, we will. Most of us would rather live the Christian life this way. But God has another plan. It is not an optional plan. It is the only plan. His plan is to be the One we look to each and every day for life, for hope, and for truth. He knows us inside and out. He set aside a cross for you, and one for me, to carry one day at a time.

This is how we follow Jesus. This is how we live the life of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

There is no secret formula. There is only a daily trust in Him alone.


"Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.

But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment." (Isaiah 50:10-11)


norma j hill said...

Thank you. Really pulled this all together for me.

Vance Breise said...

Thanks Keith, I need to read this daily.